Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a popular cannabis compound that’s responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects. the “high” feeling from the consumption of marijuana is usually because of this compound. This is because it normally actives the neuron that influences thinking, memory, coordination, time perception, and pleasure. However, anecdotal evidence also suggests that THC can have several medical benefits. But how does this compound work in the body?
How Does THC Work?
Well, THC usually interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS has two main cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. THC can activate both of them. It should be noted that people tend to experience most of the therapeutic effects of the cannabis compounds via the ECS.
The cannabinoid receptors are found abundant in the brain, especially in areas that are relevant for medical conditions such as autism spectrum, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s diseases, stress, and epilepsy. Since the ECS is important for homeostasis, this explains why taking THC or cannabis products to have significant effects on the body.
Generally, THC interacts with the following receptors:
How Does THC Affect the Mind and Body?
Generally, the effect of THC is creating a “high” effect or the feeling of euphoria. Depending on the mode of intake, you might actually end up feeling the effects within the first few couples of minutes if you smoke or vape. However, it might take you a couple of hours before you experience the effects of THC edibles.
THC normally interacts with the ECS, especially the active parts of the brain that relate to the management of memory and emotions. Besides that, this cannabis compound can have an influence on your mood, sleep patterns, and sensitivity to pain. Depending on the dosage, the consumption of THC may lead to the feeling of euphoria, disorientation, poor coordination, and anxiety. Besides that, you may experience a loss of focus and more relaxation.
But you need to understand that this compound usually produces what’s known as the biphasic effect. This means that smaller THC doses can result in effects such as euphoria, relaxation, and anti-nausea. However, higher doses may result in opposite effects such as paranoia, anxiety, and vomiting. However, you need to understand that there are still other factors that may determine how your body reacts to THC. This includes the presence of other compounds including cannabinoids and terpenes. In addition to that, your unique biology is also important. Everyone has a unique endocannabinoid system and this is influence by factors such as genetics, level of stress, diet, lifestyle, and the use of cannabis products.
THC and The Entourage Effect
One thing that’s prominent regarding the use of THC, especially for medical purposes is the entourage effect. This is a widely held school of thought by scientists that whole plants have the potential of delivering better results for treatment rather than using sole active compounds. In this case, the THC in the cannabis plant would produce better results if it’s used alongside other cannabis compounds
While there is still a need for more research studies, evidence suggests that this thought is actually effective. Clinical reports indicate that a combination of THC and CBD can synergistically work together to produce better medical results i.e., the entourage effect.
Currently, there are 3 proposed mechanisms regarding THC and other cannabis compounds that produce the entourage effect.
- Multi-target enhancing effects: This is possible because one molecule can effectively bind to multiple other receptors. Besides that, different plant molecules can bind to the same receptor.
- Modulation of adverse effects: THC and other plant compounds have molecules that may help to reduce adverse effects in the body. For instance, the combination of THC and CBD.
- Enhancing molecular movement: A plant molecule that may be inactive by itself, for instance, terpene, may help to enhance the efficacy of other active molecules, e.g., THC and CBD.
Benefits of THC
You can use THC for medicinal purposes to relieve symptoms of certain medical conditions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this compound has several emerging benefits and they include:
- Alleviating Pain
- Improving Sleep Patterns
- Treating Muscle Spasms
One of the reasons why people sought the use of THC products is to treat and manage chronic pain. Well, several clinical trials indicate that you can use cannabis products to treat chronic pain. Combining THC with other cannabinoids usually produces the most therapeutic effects.
Improving Sleep Patterns
Insomnia and sleeplessness are usually caused by underlying medical issues such as chronic pain. Well, a combination of THC with other cannabinoids can help improve the symptoms of underlying medical issues while improving the quality of sleep.
Treating Muscle Spasms
Some studies indicate that THC has the potential to modestly reduce muscle spasms. This is a common symptom that people with paraplegia and multiple sclerosis are likely to experience. A combination of THC with other cannabinoids can significantly reduce muscle spasms.
Potential Side Effects of Using THC
THC is psychoactive and this means that there are several potential risks that are associated with its consumption. Generally, there are mild side effects that slowly wear off with time. however, you can also get serious side effects such as cannabis use disorder (CUD).
Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)
CUD is simply defined as the continued use of the cannabis plant despite its physical, psychological, and social functioning effects. this simply means that you continue using cannabis even though it’s clear that it’s producing negative consequences. However, CUD isn’t a common condition. It’s estimated that it affects 1 out 10 cannabis users. Besides that, it usually depends on how frequently or the amount of cannabis you use.
Other side effects that are associated with the consumption of THC products include:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling of nausea
- Change in sleep patterns
Is THC Legal in The US?
The question regarding the legality of cannabis products is something that a lot of people worry about. It can be quite confusing but what’s clear is that the legality of THC products depends on you. It might be legal or illegal. In some states, THC products for medical use are only available to patients only.
Marijuana in the US is defined as any cannabis plant that has more than 0.3% THC. This makes it a schedule I drug and it means that it has a higher potential of abuse. Overall, states where THC is legal and this is because they have legalized the use of marijuana. These states include:
- South Dakota
- New Jersey
The Bottom Line
THC psychoactive is the cannabis compound that’s responsible for the “high” effect. it normally interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system and activating CB1 and CB2 receptors. As a result, it can be a highly beneficial compound in promoting wellness, especially when it comes to chronic pain.
However, this compound is classified as a Schedule 1 drug. This means that it has a high potential of being addictive. Besides that, consuming large doses of THC products usually lead to unwanted side effects. It’s important that you exercise caution before using THC products.